Welcome to February – the month we celebrate Valentine’s Day. While the history of Valentine’s Day and the story of Saint Valentine, its patron saint, is shrouded in mystery, what’s not a mystery is that February is also Rotary’s Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention month!   
Promoting peace and conflict resolution is one of Rotary’s seven areas of focus. This is not an area of focus that many of us have taken much time to learn about, even though Rotarians are some of the best at finding ways to build peace and understanding between people from very different backgrounds, cultures, traditions and language groups. From Rotary Peace Centers, Peace Fellowships, Peacebuilding clubs and districts, and a myriad of projects locally and globally, Rotarians strive to make our world a better place by promoting peace. What if we thought about Rotary as not just a collection of service clubs but as a global peacebuilding force??
While we don’t often take time to think about ways to build peace and reduce conflict, there are numerous ways to be involved in such efforts. In these often divisive times, one thing we can do is extend kindness towards others. Kindness and its companion, empathy, help us relate to others with more positive interactions with friends, family, and strangers we encounter in our daily lives. We don’t usually know or understand what someone else is going through; showing kindness and being an empathetic listener can be just the thing to lessen their negative thoughts, stress, anxiety and frustration. A great start to bringing peace to another person, and a situation.
In our District, we have a fabulous Peace Committee, chaired by Lynette Andersen (North Sacramento Rotary), with members from around the District. Reach out to Lynette for more information and to get ideas on how you can be part of Rotary’s global peacebuilding force.
So, as you celebrate Valentine's Day, and look at your club and community during the month, ask yourself a simple question: how can I bring more peace and understanding to my life and community?
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted ~ Aesop
Yours in Service,
Desirée Wilson
District 5180 Governor